Now that iced coffee season is in full swing, you may find yourself craving a little variety from your daily cold-brew. For those willing to venture into sweeter realms of coffee on the rocks, Vietnamese-style iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da) may just be your summer salvation. But what makes it different from regular old iced coffee? The Southeast Asian beans used to make Vietnamese coffee are of the Robusta variety, which is considerably darker and less acidic than the more popular Arabica bean grown in much of the rest of the world. In Vietnam, these Robusta beans are ground and steeped in a special filter called a Phin. Sweetened condensed milk (more readily available in Vietnam than fresh milk) is added to offset the bitterness of the Arabica beans.
You can’t beat Pho Grand in Chinatown for a truly authentic iced coffee experience. Here, your coffee comes much like it would at an eatery in Ho Chi Minh City. Order a Ca Phe Sua Da and you are presented with a Phin filter alongside a tall glass of ice. It’s up to you to let the grounds steep, and the longer you let them mix with the condensed milk, the sweeter the result. After a few minutes, dump the contents over ice, giving a quick stir with your straw, and enjoy. Sweet and rich, Pho Grand’s Ca Phe Sua Da ($2.95 a cup) packs a hefty jolt of caffeine. It’s the perfect drink to cool you off after slurping down a hot bowl of pho.
For a quicker albeit equally refreshing Vietnamese coffee on-the-go, check out Nam Nam in Williamsburg. Known for its banh mi, this casual sandwich shop makes a mean iced coffee ($2.95 for a regular size). Here, all the brewing magic happens behind the scenes; the staff at Nam Nam make each cup of coffee individually using a Phin, and they’ll bring it out to you in a plastic to-go cup. The iced coffee here errs a bit darker than that of Pho Grand, and will please those looking to go lighter on the sweetened condensed milk. You may never want to return to traditional iced coffee again after trying this decadent summer treat!
277 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
109 Montrose Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11206